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January Event Pick | FronteraFest 2016

If your resolution is to experience more of Austin’s burgeoning theater scene, then make a note to attend the 23rd FronteraFest. The festival showcases 80 short-fringe (25-minute) works and 11 long-fringe works (90 minutes or less). The event serves as a platform for performers to experiment with new material, and produce theater in a sustainable way. For patrons, the festival presents the opportunity to see performances of all different forms, from the traditional to the borderline bizarre.

“People have different definitions of fringe,” explains Ken Webster, artistic director of Hyde Park Theatre, who has been involved in FronteraFest since its inception. “It’s kind of an alternative theater, [and] some of the work is more experimental. It’s not all about fancy lights and sounds and costumes—it’s about performance."

Frontera—which is put on by Hyde Park Theatre and ScriptWorks—is essentially a tournament, and Tuesday through Friday throughout the festival, Hyde Park Theatre hosts five short-fringe performances per night. Following weeknight performances, audience and panel favorites go on to perform during Best of the Week on the following Saturday, and top acts from each of those Saturday showdowns then advance to Best of the Festival. While long-fringe performances—which run continuously and separately at Ground Floor Theatre—are typically plays, the medium for short-fringe varies and can include anything from improv and sketch comedy to dance performances and slam poetry.

“You can pretty much do whatever you want for 25 minutes,” Webster says of Frontera performance protocol, “as long as its legal and you don’t hurt anybody.”

FronteraFest takes place over the course of five weeks, with shows at Hyde Park Theatre and Ground Floor Theatre. Find more information and tickets here.

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